Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The Sea Dog at Dear Annie near Porter Square in Cambridge. (Photo: Tom Meek)

We last visited Dear Annie when the wine bar and cured fish nosh spot had just opened – bravely, I might add – at the height of Covid. The menu has continued to evolve over its brief time, always inventive and always with strong pescatarian leanings. The intimate spot, with one big communal table, side benches and perimeter poufs, is a food and vino collaboration between Field & Vine and the staff at Rebel Rebel, Union Square businesses uniting for a Porter Square venture that has been cited on national top 50 lists by Bon Appétit magazine and The New York Times.

There’s no wine list per se. It’s “curated” so you go up the the order counter, tell them your yen and an expert gives you sips of the all-natural reserves until you strike the right body and taste. The food too you order at a kiosk, but it is brought to your table (identified by a number marker) by the friendly staff.

New things on the menu that excite are the spicy shrimp salad with trout roe, a smoked bluefish sandwich with house barbecue sauce and a spicy seafood fumet (green crab-based broth), but I’ve really become a big fan of the Sea Dog, a seafood sausage of shrimp, scallops and whitefish served in a brioche bun and crowned with dill and relish. It has all the sinful joy of something off the griddle from the sausage guy without any of the coronary-tomorrow duress. It’s juicy and light, flavorful and smooth in texture – you can taste all the ingredients, and they play together in a seamless symphony. The housemade bun is perfect, a delicate carrier that’s never bready or decreases your pleasure in the spotlighted ingredient. The dog come with fermented garlic tartar sauce that is clearly there, as are the dill and relish. But they likewise don’t detract, and are just subtle players setting up the soloist at the center.

Monday night is pizza night at Dear Annie, when you can get your palate-pleasing wine (the selection of oranges is one of the most robust and best around) to wash down a hearty square of Sicilian ’za. On Sundays, Dear Annie opens early (at 4 p.m.) for “Snacky Afternoons.” The seating is tight, but it’s not far off from a hyperpopular coffee shop, and there always seems to be a seat with your name on it, During warmer weather Dear Annie takes up patio space on Massachusetts Avenue.

I’m super curious about that bluefish and barbecue, but alas, I’m just an old sea dog with a delicious addiction that’s hard to break.

Dear Annie, 1741 Massachusetts Ave., Baldwin near Porter Square, Cambridge  

Tom Meek is a writer living in Cambridge. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in the WBUR ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.